BC court ruling shows local government meetings need more transparency, legal expert says

A legal expert is calling for more transparency from local government after a recent court case overturned building permit decisions by the town of Rossland, British Columbia.

On Jan. 16, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that the community of West Kootenay — home to more than 4,000 people near the Canada-U.S. border — must accept development permit applications from a resident for allow the removal of timber from its four properties.

The court’s decision says the city council “acted in bad faith” in rejecting the motions.

Based on the minutes of council meetings on July 12 and August 9, 2021, Judge Lyndsay Lyster wrote that “the motivations and reasons of council members are quite evident.”

The decision said the city had rejected the applications of developer Warren Hamm, even though the city council believed that the applications complied with local Rossland statutes and that it would be illegal to reject them on the basis of a “misinterpretation ” of the official community plan (OCP) to be rejected.

“Forbidden objective”

The judge added that after the denials, the council passed a new tree management charter that bars it from applying for similar development permits in the future.

“They imposed obligations on the petitioners [Hamm’s companies] is not in the official community plan to prevent deforestation, which they found to be in poor taste,” Lyster wrote. “That amounts to an inappropriate goal.”

Hamm’s attorney, Jesse Gelber, based in Trail, B.C., said he was able to transcribe the council meetings in question thanks to the city’s practice of holding virtual council meetings and release his video recordings for public access during the COVID-19 upload peak on YouTube. pandemic.

“If we didn’t have that record, it would have been very, very difficult to present the reasoning to the court or what was going on in the minds of the decision makers,” Gelber said.

“If it hadn’t been recorded on YouTube, it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the result we achieved.”

The virtual council meeting in Rossland, British Columbia was held on August 9, 2021. The video recording of the meeting is still available on YouTube, which allowed Warren Hamm’s lawyer to transcribe the statements mayor and members of council. (City of Rossland/YouTube)

No legal obligation to provide minutes

British Columbia’s Local Government Act requires municipalities and regional districts to prepare legible and accurate written minutes and make them available to the public, but it does not specify the level of detail in these minutes. and does not require local government meetings to be videotaped and upload images. to video sharing sites.

Duff Conacher is the founder of Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based open government advocacy group, and holds a law degree from the University of Ottawa. He said that unlike federal and provincial governments, local governments are not legally required to produce verbatim written records of what the legislature has said. The documents are known as Hansard in Canada and other Commonwealth countries.

“If you don’t have those kinds of records, it’s pretty easy to hide malicious decisions,” Conacher said. “If there had been only vague minutes, it would have been much more difficult to argue the case that the board misinterpreted the law.”

Daybreak South6:39Leading transparency advocate calls for taping of city council meetings

Following a court ruling overturning four Rossland City Council decisions, one of Canada’s leading advocates of democratic transparency is calling for changes to the way local governments record meetings.

Judge Lyster wrote that councilors are entitled to their personal opinion on planning permission applications, but they are not entitled to adopt “an inferior interpretation… of the OCP” in order to to impose their personal opinion on the applicant.

Conacher said councilors should ensure they make their decisions in a fair, democratic and transparent manner.

“If you are going to serve the public, you must serve them well and fairly, or you will be held accountable,” he said.

The City of Rossland’s YouTube page shows that the last council meeting uploaded to the site is dated October 18, 2021.

Conacher says the province should consider adopting best practices or improved rules for how municipalities create and maintain records of their meetings.

The first edition9:39A hesitant decision by a city council that would not have happened without a pandemic

Chris Walker talks to Stephen Quinn about the bizarre circumstances at Rossland.


#court #ruling #shows #local #government #meetings #transparency #legal #expert

Footage shows the moment Greenpeace activists boarded a Shell oil rig being transported in ‘harsh conditions’ in the Atlantic

Greenpeace climate activists close in on Shell platform.Chris J Ratcliffe/Greenpeace

  • Greenpeace activists used ropes to board a ship carrying a Shell oil rig.

  • Four activists have been on the ship for five days to protest climate destruction.

  • This week, Shell announced a record $39.9 billion in profits for the past year.

Four environmental activists then remain firmly planted on a Shell oil platform in the Atlantic dramatic shots showed protesters boarding earlier this week.

The video, posted by Greenpeace on Tuesday, shows a tense moment as an activist swings on a rope above the ocean as gusty winds and crashing waves rush in. In the recording, someone can be heard saying “just fine”, as they board the White Marlin, a vessel that carries Shell’s oil and gas platform.

The 400ft rig is “critical equipment” for Shell which will enable the company to develop eight new wells in the Penguins oil and gas field in the North Sea off Shetland, according to the international environmental organisation.

On board the four activists – Carlos Marcelo Bariggi Amara from Argentina; Yakup Çetinkaya from Turkey; Imogen Michel from the UK and Usnea Granger from the USA – held a banner reading “Stop Drilling. Start paying” in a peaceful protest “against the global climate destruction caused by Shell and the entire fossil fuel industry”.

The four followed the white marlin as it sailed north of the Canary Islands aboard Greenpeace’s vessel Arctic Sunrise. They were accompanied by two other activists who were unable to board the ship.

Yeb Saño, managing director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, was unable to board but will remain on the Arctic Sunrise, which follows the White Marlin. Saño explained that they would act because “when Shell extracts fossil fuels, it causes a wave of death, destruction and displacement across the world, with the worst impact on those least responsible for the climate crisis.”

“So we will attack them at sea, at shareholder meetings, in the courtroom, online and at their headquarters. We won’t stop until we achieve climate justice. We will make the polluters pay,” he added.

Protesters were still at the top of the platform on Friday and had “enough food, water and all-weather gear to keep them going for days,” a Greenpeace spokesperson told Insider in a E-mail.

Climate activists on the Shell oil rig.Greenpeace

The protest coincides with the energy giant’s announcement on Thursday of its highest ever profit, with reported profits of $39.9 billion in 2022, more than double the company’s earnings the last year. The gains come after the price of natural gas soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Shell spokesperson said: “The new floating vessel will allow production from the Penguins field to continue to provide the necessary energy that Britain needs,” the spokesperson told Insider in an e-mail. mail.

Projects like the Penguins oilfield are “fully compatible with a net-zero trajectory as modeled by the UK’s Independent Committee on Climate Change”, they added.

The company said the protest was a safety concern given the “number of people boarding a moving vessel in difficult conditions”.

However, the activists are experienced climbers who “have undergone extensive training to take part in this action”, a Greenpeace spokesperson said, adding that they take safety “very seriously”.

According to a study by the International Energy Agency, “no investment should be made in new fossil fuel supply projects” to achieve a net zero energy solution by 2050.

Read the original article on Business Insider


#Footage #shows #moment #Greenpeace #activists #boarded #Shell #oil #rig #transported #harsh #conditions #Atlantic